3.22.2009

posting by jeffrey side on blog, quote from seamus heaney, misremembering something someone said

There’s a phrase I heard as a criticism of W. H. Auden and I like the sound of it: somebody said that he didn’t have the rooted normality of the major talent. I’m not sure the criticism applies to Auden, but the gist of it is generally worth considering.

"the rooted normality of the major poet" -- because he was gay? is only a poet normal if a white male, or *resolutely default" if not? a late-comer to academics?

Side says, Whilst it is certainly true that Eliot was a conservative figure in both temperament and ideology, and that his later work was not as effervescent as that of his major period, Heaney’s suggestion that Eliot’s poetry evinces the ‘normal world’ is only accurate regarding content, the treatment of phenomena in Eliot, however, is seldom “normal” and usually problematical.

But Heaney's comment on "rooted normality of a major poet" is about content -- content springing from a usual enagagement (in many ways, though perhaps more critical, observant, etc. than usual) with the world -- the concrete mixer of grinding up rocks and pouring copies of the venus de milo, or david... or new things?

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